Smoke-Free Efforts

The Mississippi House has passed a bill that could ultimately ban smoking inside all publicly owned buildings. Meanwhile, a number of local groups are joining forces and renewing a push to ban smoking in all public buildings in Meridian.

Getting a puff in public places could soon be a things of the past in Meridian. That's because several local groups are joining forces to request for a ban on smoking in public buildings.

Currently, the Partnership for a Healthy Lauderdale County, the American Cancer Society and the local Diabetes Association are three of several groups promoting this effort.

"I feel good about our chances," says Sabrina Wilson with the Partnership for a Healthy Lauderdale County, "because various towns are passing ordinances for their communities. I was just told that Starkville passed an ordinance and it took place last week.

Wilson says last year an effort to establish such a ban was blocked after being vetoed by the mayor. This time she says the organizations involved plant to approach the matter a little differently.

"So, we're wanting to take matters in a slower pace but in a step fashion whereby everyone can know that second hand smoke is a class A carcinogen where persons can get cancer," says Wilson.

"Right now," says Lynn Irby with the American Cancer Society, "about 3,000 lung cancer deaths are caused for people who are breathing in secondhand smoke."

Now in the initial stages of the effort, organizers say if all goes well they will be able to present a proposal on this to the City Council sometime this spring. Whether or not that will be approved is yet to be seen.